Former Tri-Cities physician ID'd as victim in targeted West Vancouver murder

Murder victim identified

Homicide police are asking the public to help identify two men believed to be involved in a targeted West Vancouver murder.

Today (March 31), the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) confirmed the victim as Dr. Francis Este, who was attacked on March 21 in the underground parking lot of an apartment building on the 2100 block of Argyle Avenue.

At 4:48 p.m. that afternoon, West Van police responded to reports of a man suffering from serious injuries at the address.

Officers found Este suffering from multiple stab wounds, but died of his injuries at the scene despite first responders' attempts to save his life.

Witnesses reported a suspect fleeing the area on foot eastbound on Argyle Avenue, said IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Timothy Pierotti.

"IHIT has advanced the investigation and through CCTV review, two suspects have been established. Investigators are focusing on identifying both of these males and determining what role they have in this homicide," he added

"We believe this was a targeted incident that may be related to other events involving Dr. Este throughout the past few months."

The homicide team said it's continuing to work with West Vancouver police, and is pursuing all potential avenues of investigation, canvassing several areas, collecting evidence and identifying witnesses.

Victim a former Tri-Cities physician

IHIT said that Este, 55, was not known to police, but are releasing his image in hopes of building a timeline of his activities before the homicide.

Este was a retired urologist that practiced in the Tri-Cities for several years, specifically in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.

According to his HealthDoc.ca profile, Este diagnosed different diseases related to the genitourinary organs.

He also examined patients with ailments like prostate cancer, bladder infections and urethral stones, and administered procedures to treat any dysfunction of the urinary tract.

Patient reviews described Este as "wonderful and knowledge" as well as understanding of their health issues.

"From the beginning he took the time to understand my prostrate problem," reads one statement.

"He told me what I had and how to treat it completely with pills just being only a small part of the overall therapy....A doctor should care about his patient, this doctor is excellent."

"Dr. Este is the best urologist I have ever been to. Using humour and wisdom, he put my mind at ease," a patient said.

"Very efficient and direct; made accurate diagnosis and went on to treat surgically with excellent results. I am free of cancer now and grateful," added another.

Este also practiced urology at Fraser Health's Tri-Cities Community Dialysis Unit in Coquitlam.

His LinkedIn profile said he received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Alberta, and did his residency in urology and general surgery through UBC.

Anyone with more information on Este's murder, including statements or video footage, is encouraged to call IHIT's information line at 1-877-551-4448 or send an email to [email protected].

- with files from Kyle Balzer, Tri-City News


Vancouver asks artist, vigil keepers to end Indigenous children's shoe memorial

City wants memorial to go

Officials in Vancouver are meeting with the artist and volunteers who are keeping vigil on a children's shoe memorial on the steps of the city's art gallery in an effort to end the tribute to children who didn't return from residential schools.

The installation started with 215 pairs of children's shoes on the gallery steps and was set up shortly after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced the possible unmarked graves of children were found on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The city says in a statement it notified the artist in November that the growing memorial of shoes and stuffed animals needed to come down ahead of the two-year anniversary of the announcement of the Kamloops discovery this May.

The statement says the decision is supported by the local Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

It says the memorial was initially installed in response to the profound need for grieving and healing spaces, but the continuation of the memorial isn't aligned with the spiritual practices of the three area First Nations.

The city says it should have acted sooner to bring the memorial to a close once it realized the local nations were not consulted and had not given permission for the installation.

The statement says the teachings handed down through generations for the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations say that "as long as the memorial remains, the spirits of the children will remain tethered to the items placed on the steps and cannot move on."

Former Richmond business owner accused of marrying two different women within a month

Married 2 women in weeks

RCMP are investigating a former Steveston business owner accused of bigamy and immigration fraud by his wife from Taiwan.

Vivian Wang, 55, a business owner in Taiwan, was introduced to her husband, a café owner in Steveston at the time, through a common friend in 2020. After chatting online for two years, Wang came to Vancouver where the couple lived together for two months before registering for marriage at the Vital Statistics office in Vancouver last June.

Just when Wang was looking forward to a new life with her new husband, she discovered he had married another woman, just three weeks after their marriage registration.

The RCMP said they are investigating the case and are looking into whether a bigamy charge might be proven.

Alleged bigamy and immigration fraud

Wang showed the Richmond News her marriage certificate, dated June 28, 2022, and another marriage certificate she said her husband accidently sent to her with his name and date of birth, but with another woman’s name, dated July 19, 2022. It appears that both marriage certificates were issued by the same Vital Statistics office in Vancouver.

Vital Statistics of B.C. did not respond to the News’ request by the time the article was published.

“I was in Taiwan preparing for moving to Canada to live with him permanently when I found out that he married another woman here in B.C. I was in shock,” said Wang, who immediately flew to Vancouver to confront her husband, a permanent resident of Canada.

“He told me he only married the other woman to help her get permanent residency. He said he only loves me and was loyal to me.”

Despite his declarations, Wang reported the situation to the RCMP, who told the News they are also investigating the man for possible immigration fraud, which would involve the Canada Border Services Agency.

“I still can’t wrap my head around how this could happen. How could he get married twice with no one questioning it? Don’t they check the person’s status when they register for marriage here in Canada? They do that in Taiwan,” said Wang to the News.

“I kept asking, why did this happen to me? I want to raise this issue because I don’t want other victims to experience the same and suffer like me.”

Wang’s husband, whose business has since gone under, has left for China “to take care of his elderly father,” according to Wang.

Wang admitted she has provided her husband with financial support throughout their three-year relationship but refused to say how much.

Incomplete marriage record leaves room for bigamy

Lawrence Wong, a lawyer from Lawrence Wong & Associates, told the News that under the current system, it’s not easy for the registry office to get an applicant’s complete vital statistics records, so the office often relies on the honour system.

“Divorcing is a federal matter and marriage is a provincial matter, so the registry might not have access to someone’s divorce record,” said Wong.

“Plus, it won’t show if the person gets divorced abroad, so the record is not complete. So a lot of the time, it relies on the applicants to provide an honest answer about their marriage status.”

On the B.C. government’s website, it states that “Vital Statistics does not register divorces. If you married in B.C. but then divorced, the search will only list the marriage.”

However, in this case there was no divorce, just two marriages within a month registered at the same B.C. office.

“It doesn’t mean people can just marry as many times as they want, though, because committing bigamy is a criminal offence, but it is not easy to identify in advance,” said Wong.

People committing bigamy can be sentenced for up to five years in prison in Canada.

However, Wang found the explanation unacceptable.

“Why can’t they just stop people from committing bigamy in the first place when they try to register, instead of letting it happen, instead of expecting the victim to report to the police and deal with all the stress,” said Wang.

Wong added that if what Wang claims is true and a bigamy is confirmed by authorities, the second marriage of Wang’s husband should be invalided and cannot be used for immigration purpose.

Despite all that, Wang said if her husband is willing to admit his mistake, she will consider giving him another chance. 


BC Ferries fare hikes tentatively capped at 9.2% annually for next four years

BC Ferries fare hikes capped

The British Columbia Ferry Commission announced Friday a preliminary cap on fare hikes by BC Ferries at 9.2 per cent annually over the next four years; however, a $500-million cash injection from the provincial government into ferry operations will likely lower the need for such an increase.

“Continued labour supply issues, rising fuel prices, escalating costs associated with maintaining an aging fleet, and a 12-year, $5.2-billion proposed capital plan driven by a need to replace vessels will create substantial pressure. Given this, we believe that a price cap of 9.2% is appropriate and necessary to allow BC Ferries to meet the demands of the upcoming performance term,” stated commissioner Eva Hage.

“Certainly the $500 million will help alleviate a significant amount of the pressure facing our ferry system and allow us to lower the final price cap accordingly,” said Hage.

The announcement was quickly responded to by Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming via his own statement to media: “The commissioner's preliminary decision does not yet factor in the $500-million contribution to support fare affordability. I want to assure British Columbians, particularly those who rely on our coastal ferry service, that our goal of holding annual average fare increases to no more than 3% remains.

"As the commissioner works toward a final price cap decision by Sept. 30, 2023, she will incorporate the $500-million contribution to inform her final decision on the price cap for the next four-year term,” stated Fleming.

The commissioner stated BC Ferries' capital plan has already been reduced by $330 million and the 9.2% cap is contingent on BC Ferries implementing $10 million in operating cost savings over four years.

“The corporation must demonstrate good fiscal management and find a solid footing in which expenses align with revenues. To that end, we are requiring BC Ferries to provide us with a plan that sets out the steps it will take, in consultation with the province, to ensure a financially sustainable, safe, reliable and affordable ferry system over the long term,” stated Hage.

[email protected]


Former Liberal cabinet minister John Rustad acclaimed leader of B.C. Conservatives

Rustad acclaimed leader

A former Liberal cabinet minister who has been sitting in British Columbia's legislature as an Independent is the new leader of the provincial Conservatives.

John Rustad, the member of the legislature for Nechako Lakes, was acclaimed leader of the Conservative Party of B.C. as the only candidate who entered the race.

Rustad, who is 60 years old, replaces former leader Trevor Bolin, who was serving as interim leader.

Opposition Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said he dumped Rustad from the party caucus last August for his public statements and social media posts suggesting climate change is not caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

Rustad, who once held cabinet posts in forests and Indigenous affairs in former Liberal governments, announced last month he was joining the B.C. Conservatives, who received less than two per cent of the vote in the 2020 provincial election.

He says in a statement issued by the Conservative Party of B.C. that he will work to bring people together in an effort to build a grassroots movement of supporters in time for the fall 2024 provincial election.

Heavy snow warning issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

Heavy snow warning

UPDATE: 11:24 a.m.

There's a reason you need to keep your winter tires on until the end of April.

The Coquihalla and connector are expected to get up to 25 centimetres of snow by Saturday evening, says Environment Canada.

According to meteorologist Bobby Sekhon, it's not uncommon to get a late season snow event like this, especially in higher elevation areas like the Coquihalla.

“It’s a cooler air mass that we’ve been dealing with all month. It’s this northwesterly flow that’s bringing in this system from the Gulf of Alaska, down the coast and in through the southwest Interior," he continued.

"We can expect to see those kind of systems bringing snowfall to higher elevations."

Things on the Interior side of things don't seem to be as concerning to Environment Canada, but Sehkon says he wouldn't be surprised if Big White got some snow too.

"You can’t rule out a couple centimetres of snow for Big White as well, so it’s important to check the road conditions before heading up.”

ORIGINAL: 6:47 a.m.

Heavy, late-season snowfall is expected on Southern Interior mountain highways today through Saturday night.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt, and Highway 3, Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass.

Accumulations of up to 25 centimetres are forecast.

"A robust frontal system sliding down the coast tonight will begin to spread light to moderate snow to the Coquihalla Highway starting this morning," the forecaster says.

"Freezing levels are expected to remain below summit level this afternoon. Snowfall rates will intensify this evening and persist through Saturday."

Significant snow isn't expected to accumulate until later this evening, before easing Saturday night.

On Highway 3, the onset of snow is delayed until this afternoon and will increase in intensity by Saturday morning. The heavy snow will persist through Saturday evening.

Weather in the mountains can change suddenly, resulting in hazardous driving conditions, Environment Canada warns.

City of Revelstoke loses appeal in diving case that left camper paralyzed

City loses diving appeal

The City of Revelstoke has lost its appeal of a court ruling finding it had a duty of care in a 2015 incident in which a man was paralyzed after he dove into Williamson Lake.

The BC Court of Appeal dismissed the city's appeal March 29 in Vancouver.

Aaron Gelowitz was seriously injured when he made a shallow dive into the lake and struck an obstacle believed to be a tree stump in the water.

Gelowitz had been camping at Williamson Lake Park and Campground with his family. The park is located on the west side of the lake on land owned by the city, but Gelowitz dove from the east side of the lake on land owned by a third party.

The trial judge found the city liable in negligence and Gelowitz contributorily negligent apportioning liability 35% to the city and 65% to Gelowitz.

The city appealed that decision, contending the trial judge erred in concluding that it owed a duty of care despite the accident occurring on land that it neither owned nor controlled.

The lake is only about 100 metres wide, and while the city does maintain the sandy beach area, dock and a floating raft in the middle of the lake, it does post 'swim at your own risk' and 'no diving' signs.

However, the city acknowledged lake users routinely swim across to rocky outcroppings known locally as Big Rock and Little Rock on the other side.

Gelowitz had never been to the park before and dove in from the far side, leaving him a quadriplegic.

The appeal court found the city had a duty to warn of the risks associated with the use of the park and wider lake area.

The three-judge panel concluded "that it is reasonably foreseeable that park users might dive into the lake from locations on the eastern shore after swimming across the lake" and that the plaintiff's injury was a "foreseeable consequence of the city's breach of the standard of care in failing have visible signs warning against" such activity.

In Vancouver's Downtown Eastside a society's wounds hurt everyone

Society's wounds hurt all

When Brock Worobel moved into his West Hastings condo unit more than a decade ago, he knew the neighbourhood had its problems, but it felt manageable.

A diversity of incomes seemed to be working it out, just the way the Woodward’s Building had integrated social housing with market housing, and Stan Douglas art alongside a basketball court.

New condos were springing up all the way to Chinatown, and people started to fear the threat of gentrification. By 2014, the Downtown Eastside Plan came along to protect the existing low-income residents, restricting the development of new condo buildings such as the one where Mr. Worobel already lived. As part of the plan, Mr. Worobel’s area of Hastings Street would be devoted to social housing and the shops would cater to low incomes.

Nearly a decade after the plan, the residents of Mr. Worobel’s building now live behind a protective gate. They are on the frontline of a full-blown homelessness, addiction and mental-health crisis. An estimated 117 people live in a tent encampment on Hastings. The city and province recently responded with an announcement to add 300 more social housing units to the neighbourhood.

Fires are routine, as are stabbings and overdoses, says Mr. Worobel. He witnessed paramedics try to save a man who died of an overdose in front of his building.

“We see things down here that 95 per cent of the population doesn’t ever see,” he says.

The pandemic made the situation worse, but he held on to hope because he loved his apartment. Now, he’s desperate to leave. They are looking at options, such as dissolving the strata and selling the building. But with his life savings poured into his unit, it’s not easy.

“I would imagine we wouldn’t have a problem getting the owners onside,” he says. The bigger issue would be getting a decent offer.

“And where does that leave us? We still have to find somewhere else to live in a city where the other condo prices have gone through the roof. They are continuing to increase but ours have flat lined. Everything else around us has gone up.”

On a recent afternoon, a young man is huddled inside his building’s entranceway, doing drugs. The shoe shop next door is vacant and boarded up, and the empty lot next to it is piled high with garbage.

Mr. Worobel is president of the strata and the residents are $55,000 in debt because their windows keep getting broken. The strata hires cleaners to wipe down the front of the building every day. Any attempts it makes to repair damage are instantly thwarted. The strata installed pot lights outside the front entrance, and someone has already busted a hole in the ceiling. Their insurance went up $15,000 in one year.

The majority of the units in his building are now rentals, and one former owner said that renters are not easy to find.

He paid $380,000 for his unit in 2011 and he figures he could list his place for $499,000. But when taxes and fees are taken into account, there’s little equity gain compared to comparable units a few blocks away. At the peak in 2018, he’d likely have sold it for $599,000, he says. The assessed values of the units in his building have gone down for the past two years. An analysis of five condo buildings in the area showed that their assessments had all flat-lined since 2018.

A unit in his building just sold after sitting on the market for two years.

“People say, ‘You should have known about the Downtown Eastside,’ but it wasn’t this bad when I moved in,” Mr. Worobel says. “And the city had a plan to clean the area up, to invest money and make it livable. I’m stuck. There’s nowhere else to go.

“I wasn’t buying a property to make money. I wanted a place to live.”

Some say a big part of the problem for residents who bought into the area is that bylaws are not being enforced.

“Everyone thought it was going to get better and it got worse,” says realtor Ian Watt. “When Woodward’s came about, there was this resurgence of the area, and then it just went downhill. I had a place there, and I ended up leaving.”

Heritage expert Don Luxton said the area reminds him of New York’s Times Square in the seventies, a place where you went at your own risk. No one could possibly think the suffering happening there on the street, and the disorder, is functional or healthy, he says. He shakes his head at the city’s decision to raze a one-of-a-kind heritage building at 123 East Hastings to make room for a street market.

“The physical fabric is totally under attack now. Nobody is going to invest in [the area], so it’s a vicious cycle, with more buildings coming down, more and more social housing. … I’m a big advocate for social housing but I don’t think it needs to be in every building in the Downtown Eastside, and that’s the direction it’s going,” Mr. Luxton said. That concentration of social housing includes a particularly high percentage of supportive housing, for people who require addiction services, for example.

Only a couple of areas of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) have ownership housing restrictions, according to the plan. Gastown to the north of Hastings didn’t see its market housing or businesses restricted.

“There is a visible difference between what’s happening in our neighbourhood versus what’s happening south of our neighbourhood,” says Wally Wargolet, executive director of the Gastown Business Improvement Association. “That is not by luck, but by design.”

Unlike Hastings Street, Gastown shops have stayed full and the streets are much cleaner, due to a concerted effort by businesses. They have a program to clean human feces off the street, which has become a necessary expense.

Mr. Wargolet believes that decades of failed government policies have let cities down. Lack of affordable housing and policy decisions have contributed to a problem that was exacerbated by the opioid crisis and the pandemic.

“The Downtown Eastside area plan was supposed to help this neighbourhood, and that’s a failed policy as well. And really, someone needs to take a look at that,” Mr. Wargolet says.

“When I lived in Chicago and Milwaukee, San Francisco and Philadelphia – all those cities where they put social housing in one area – all of that was failed social policy and they ended up changing that. Why does Vancouver think it can do it differently? It can’t. We have to spread the services and the housing around [the province], not just the Downtown Eastside.”

It was the topic of a sold-out debate at the Urbanarium Tuesday night, where developer and former Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation program manager Michael Geller spoke in favour of revising the plan. His team went up against former senior city planner for the DTES Nathan Edelson, one of the speakers against opening up to market development.

“It was naively done because planners and politicians thought this would help keep property values low,” Mr. Geller says. “To some degree, they are right. But the unintended consequence is that you only have low-income households who can’t support the broad range of neighbourhood shops and other amenities that make a good neighbourhood.”

Mr. Edelson argues that the goal should be more affordable housing throughout the province. With land values rising, higher market rate housing would only put more pressure on low-income groups and the result would be more homelessness, he says.

He called for partnerships between business and low-income advocates, working toward affordable housing for people elsewhere in the region, to reduce the numbers flowing into the DTES.

As Mr. Luxton points out, as is, even if more market development were allowed, few would want to invest in the area.

Developer Jon Stovell, president of Reliance Properties, thinks that condo owners should take action against the city for their predicament.

“I think they should start a class action lawsuit case against the city for not upholding the bylaws that are on the books,” Mr. Stovell says.

“This is actually a breakdown of the social contract,” he says. “People buy property, they comply with zoning, they follow bylaws, they pay property tax, and the quid pro quo is supposed to be that your government runs an orderly society.”

Reliance has sold three buildings in the area, including the 30-unit Burns Block rental building, which became too dangerous for their tenants. BC Housing purchased the building in 2021.


Don't stop at this article! Unlock unlimited access to our trusted journalism, valuable tools, exclusive newsletters and more.

$1.99 per week for 52 weeks

Subscribe now

FIFA vice-president distances himself from Canadian soccer sexual assault scandal

FIFA vice-president testfies

A West Vancouver resident – one of FIFA’s eight vice-presidents – told members of Parliament Thursday that he was not interviewed by the FIFA committee that was looking into the case of a former Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) coach jailed for sexually assaulting players. 

“I was never asked anything by the FIFA ethics committee,” testified Victor Montagliani, who is also president of FIFA’s North and Central America and Caribbean zone known as CONCACAF. 

“The FIFA ethics committee made a clear statement, that their investigation had to deal with the individuals, Mr. Birarda, specifically, being involved. So I was never asked anything by the FIFA ethics committee.”

Bob Birarda, a former head coach of Canada’s under-20 national team and assistant coach with the senior national team, was sentenced to 16 months of jail in November for crimes committed between 1988 and 2008. He wasn’t charged until late 2020, after former Whitecap Ciara McCormack blew the whistle about Birarda’s return to coaching teenage girls.

Montagliani was a member of the CSA board in 2008 when players complained about Birarda’s behaviour, including sexualized text messages. In his testimony via web conference to the Canadian Heritage committee, Montagliani said he remembered conference calls to suspend Birarda and to hire a lawyer to investigate.

“The second conference call weeks later dealt with the recommendation by the investigator, through our president, to confirm that there will be no police [investigation] undertaken in this matter, unfortunately,” Montagliani told the MPs. “That there was also the texting that was confirmed that was inappropriate for a coach-player relationship, and that also, that the identity of the players or player involved, as well as the details of the texting, was not revealed to the committee because of privacy and confidentiality.”

Birarda also coached the Whitecaps’ entry in the W-League. In October 2008, the club and the CSA both announced Birarda’s departure in what they called a “mutual parting of ways.” 

“We only dealt with the sole allegation of his inappropriate texting at a national team camp in Vancouver,” Montagliani testified. “And that was the process of that investigation with respect to what he has subsequently been charged with, which came in light in 2019/2020. Those predated his time at the Canada Soccer Association, when he committed those things while working at the grassroots or at private academies in British Columbia. In 2008, nobody was aware, I was certainly not aware of anything previously that Birarda had done.” 

Last July, University of Western Ontario sports law professor Richard McLaren issued a damning report that said nobody from the CSA was directing or overseeing Birarda and the organization misled the public about his departure.

“The CSA executive committee’s intent to terminate Birarda was communicated as a ‘mutual parting of ways’ which mischaracterized, if not glossed over, the real circumstances surrounding his departure,” McLaren wrote.

Earlier in the hearing, MP Anthony Housefather (Liberal-Mount Royal) pressed Montagliani to reveal how much he is paid, but Montagliani refused. 

“The issue is that with the organization that I am the president of has a policy with respect to not disclosing that number,” Montagliani said, claiming non-disclosure was for security and safety reasons. 

The former insurance executive lives in a West Vancouver mansion assessed at almost $6.4 million. Montagliani, who became CSA president in 2012, was elected CONCACAF president in 2016 and bought the property in 2017, when CONCACAF reportedly paid him US$2 million. 

Housefather also grilled Nick Bontis, who resigned as CSA president on Feb. 27, about his reported $125,000 payment for membership on the CONCACAF council. 

Bontis said he was “uncomfortable in sharing” what he earns for privacy reasons. He said that during this 11 years on the CSA board, he was a volunteer. 

Bontis revealed that the CSA’s marketing and broadcast deal with privately owned Canadian Soccer Business, which players have called one-sided, could last 20 years.

“The frame of reference for me, personally, in 2017 and 2018, when we were negotiating the deal, was that we need a long time to actually provide resources for a league to sustain itself,” said Bontis, a business professor at McMaster University. “Three previous men's league, CSL, CNSL, CPSL, historically, all went belly-up within that 10-year period.”

Bontis was under fire in February after the national women’s team, the reigning Olympic champions, threatened to strike for pay equity. The forum of provincial association presidents demanded he step down while he was in Guatemala with the national under-17 boys team. 

He said he unsuccessfully asked for a meeting to hear their reasons. 

“I was not afforded that opportunity. So at that point, I tendered my resignation,” Bontis said. 

Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club club to sue governments after raid

Cannabis club to sue

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club plans to file an ­injunction and a lawsuit against the ­provincial government following a raid of the club’s products.

Club founder Ted Smith estimates between $80,000 and $100,000 worth of products was taken on March 23 by the ­Community Safety Unit, an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General that focuses on the illegal production and sale of cannabis.

Nearly $33,000 cash was also seized, including $19,000 in GST and payroll taxes.

The club plans to file a ­lawsuit against the provincial and federal governments because of the raid and apply for an injunction to ask for an end to enforcement while the suit is ongoing, Smith said.

“In the meantime, we are very vulnerable,” he said.

Canada’s oldest ­“compassion club” has openly sold cannabis products since 1996.

The club contravenes current law, which does not allow for storefronts to sell medical products, and Health Canada has a 10 mg THC limit on edibles.

The club says that limit is inadequate for many people with chronic pain.

“We will not stop supplying those medicines that have been keeping people alive for a long time,” Smith said.

Many find ordering medicinal cannabis online inaccessible, and it doesn’t allow patients to ask questions of those with expertise, Smith said.

There has been a lot of fear and anxiety in members worried the club was shut down, Smith said, but he and staff are committed to providing cannabis products despite potential future raids.

Mark Miller, a stroke ­survivor, said he would be in pain constantly without the variety of products — salves, ointments, edible products and more — on offer that provide relief from his spasms.

A member for 20 years, ­Margaret Lang said the club’s products are the only thing that help her sleep.

“Let us get our medicine, my God,” she said, appealing to the province.

Smith is bracing for more raids.

“This has been a very long struggle, for decades,” Smith said.

Smith and the club’s ­society were fined a total of $6.5 million in February 2022 for ­selling marijuana illegally at its ­Johnson Street site. The fine is under appeal, Smith said.

The fine was imposed ­following an inspection in May 2019 and raids at the unlicensed, non-profit dispensary in November 2019 and July 2020.

The Community Safety Unit is responsible for enforcement under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. Investigations are the result of both proactive strategies and complaints from the public, police, legal cannabis operators, government ­agencies and others, the ministry has said.

Workplace violence incidents up 25% over last five years

Workplace violence up

Over the last five years, acts of violence at the workplace have increased by 25 per cent in B.C.

With this in mind, WorkSafeBC is reminding employers of their obligation to prevent violence in the workplace and ensure the safety of their workers.

“Unfortunately, the potential for violence exists whenever there is direct interaction between workers and non-workers,” said Barry Nakahara, Senior Manager of Prevention Field Services at WorkSafeBC about the increase in accepted 2,292 accepted claims in 2018 to 2,868 in 2022.

"Employers must provide a workplace as safe from the threat of violence as possible."

WorkSafeBC regulations require that employers conduct a risk assessment, have policies and procedures in place to protect workers from the risk of violence, and to provide instruction to workers.

Where there is a risk of violence at work, employers must implement controls to eliminate or minimize these risks.

These controls can include developing and implementing violence-prevention policies, providing training and education to employees, and regularly conducting risk assessments. Physical barriers, lighting, and public visibility, along with safe-work procedures, could also serve as effective controls.

WorkSafe notes employers must review and update their violence prevention program annually to ensure its effectiveness as the work environment changes.

Metro Vancouver woman ordered to return Bentley the dog to ex-boyfriend

Ordered to return ex's dog

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has ordered a Metro Vancouver woman to turn their dog over to her ex-boyfriend.

Tribunal vice-chair Andrea Ritchie said the case came down to deciding what was in the best interests of Bentley the European Doberman.

Jeffrey Bond and Christina McInulty had been in a romantic relationship. When the relationship ended, they continued to share Bentley for eight years. They would each have Bentley for three weeks at a time.

However, Bond told the tribunal McInulty suddenly decided to stop sharing ownership of Bentley.

McInulty said she decided to keep Bentley, as she no longer felt comfortable with Bond having access to him. She said she would not be returning the dog, or paying for any of Bentley’s prior expenses.

As such, Bond went to the tribunal to get Bentley returned or receive $5,000 for the dog's expenses over the years.

It was in June 2022, Ritchie said in her March 30 decision, that McInulty texted Bond saying she had “discovered some pretty upsetting things” about him and she was no longer comfortable interacting with him, or letting Bentley stay with him.

“In subsequent text messages, Ms. McInulty refused to tell Mr. Bond what the allegations were,” Ritchie said. “She says this was to protect the unidentified person who allegedly disclosed the concerns to her.”

In July 2022, Bond tried to retrieve Bentley from McInulty with police supervision. She refused to hand the dog over and he has not seen the dog since.

Ritchie said such cases are fraught with problems as people do not like to view their pets as possessions (which at law they are) and deciding who has a greater claim can be difficult.

Ritchie said both were listed as owners on veterinary records and both had shared in Bentley’s care.

However, Ritchie said, despite McInulty’s unilaterally deciding she owned Bentley, the two continued to co-own the dog.

Ritchie found both parties are able to care for Bentley and put no weight on McInulty’s unsupported allegations about her concerns about Bond.

The tribunal found removing the dog from one of its owners without any explanation about the allegedly “upsetting” behaviour or how it may have been dog-related, displayed McInulty's inability to put Bentley’s best interests above her own.

“Parties are told to submit all relevant evidence during the CRT process, and Ms. McInulty still failed to substantiate the allegation on which she entirely bases her right to solely retain Bentley,” Ritchie said.

“Although I accept Ms. McInulty provided good care for Bentley, I find Mr. Bond is better suited to care for him.” 

More BC News